Originally published at: http://esk8.news/2019/02/04/skullboard-motors-good-good-good-good-vibrations/
If you’re even mall walker active in the electric skateboard world, you’ve no doubt seen airless 105mm rubber hub wheels. They first showed up with the Skullboard offerings, followed swiftly by similar setups from Diyeboards and then Ownboard. Mine came from SkullBoard as the “Airless Wheels Kit” and included front trucks, the rear hub motors/trucks, the esc/remote, and a set of risers. I have a metric ton of decks already, so I threw them on one of my Rayne Hustler decks.
They came packaged along with the clueless hyperbolic bullshit that only Chinese manufacturers can say with a straight face. To quote:
High-performance Electric Skateboards with Big Rubber Wheels, Powerful 350w dual hub-motor electric skateboard with serious range. More powerful, More range. Free & Fast Shipping. Get yours now.
Now that we’ve been deeply moved by poetry, let’s get knee deep in the muck.
To address these marketing points in order: High-performance? No. Big rubber wheels? Well, yes, so one for the plus column. Powerful 350w hub motors? Again, no. More powerful? Okay, now I’m getting pissed. NO. More range? ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT.
Now comes the time in the article where I tell you to avoid these pieces of crap like they come coated in Ebola-tainted blood. But I’m not going to do that, because I like them. A lot.
What’s to like?
They’re slow but reliable. They handle wet sections of road like a champ. (I don’t purposely ride in the rain but shit happens.) Acceleration is poor but top speed is not bad. (I MIGHT be a wuss.) They make bad tarmac feel pretty damn decent. They may vibrate at low speeds but they glide nicely at speed where I am 85% of the time. The ESC/remote combo is as smooth as butter.
They eat range for lunch but this is easily fixed with a good battery. We’re talking the best battery you can afford.
Maybe that doesn’t sound all that exciting to you, but I’m not always looking for exciting. For instance, take my other forms of transport. For most of my adult life, I’ve usually had a decent truck/SUV and a liter-class sportbike. Because sometimes I just want to get where I’m going and other times I want to pucker my exhaust port a little.
This drivetrain has become the ultra reliable SUV I’ve been missing lately. My DIY board is my sport bike, and my old Meepo is my “forgot to charge the other boards” backup plan.
They’re not perfect. Neither are you.
Still, there are some who will fault this drivetrain for not being perfect out of the box. Chances are, these are the same people who want to speak to the manager about the smallest perceived slight.
If you want to be the first one to get something, guess what? You’re a test rider in all but name. First implementations of even really great ideas often involve trade-offs. If you want a guarantee of perfection, buy yourself a Honda hatchback and fill it with stuffed animals.
That said, a few tips: (1) Check your hardware often, or invest in some blue loctite. They rattled free on me once and I ended up surfing my enclosure until I could judo roll out if it. (They’re solid AF. No issues after coming loose and launching down the path a bit.) (2) They’re heavy, so don’t expect to be carrying them for extended distances.
If you’re looking for a nice poor weather option or something for seriously bad sections of pavement (they’re not true all-terrain options), this Skullboard setup fills that need nicely. I know I’ll be grabbing the next version of these wheels to see what improvements have been made. Until then, my esk8 SUVs will be used every time the conditions call for it.